Thursday, March 3, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten...and Then Re-learned as a Mom!

The Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant

Astronomy 105: Astronomy is the natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies.)  This broad term has only recently, within the 20th century, been broken down into specific sub-terms such as stellar astronomy, galactic astronomy, extragalactic astronomy, cosmology, etc.

As I studied up on this topic, a very interesting parallel was found between astrometry, the measurement of the positions of celestial objects, and what I really did learn in kindergarten, or before.

According to Wikipedia,, this measurement of stellar parallax of nearby stars provides a fundamental baseline in the cosmic distance ladder that is used to measure the scale of the universe.

Well, all I can say, (or rather sing) is, "Twinkle, twinkle, little star.  How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.  Twinkle, twinkle, little star.  How I wonder what you are."  This little song, that my kids can sing by the time they're two, already announces the phenomenon of stars, (they twinkle,) alluding to the fact that they produce their own light.  We also already know where they are in relation to the Earth, (which astronomers have spent billions of dollars to find out):  up above the world so high.  Do we really need to know more?

I guess one of the biggest reasons for studying our galaxy and her stars is to learn more about our own great star, the Sun.  Johannes Kepler and Newton spent their life studying the motion of the planets with the Sun in the center.  Their life-long examination explained how the planets, and all celestial bodies in our galaxy, revolve around the sun, which provides them with light and warmth.

Once again, a mother and her lullaby come through.  "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.  You make me happy, when skies are gray.  You'll never know, dear, how much I love you.  Please don't take my sunshine away."  This song teaches about the light, (or happiness,) provided by the sun.  It also explains why children think the world revolves around them!

Let me just suggest to NASA, or whoever else is forking out billions to study the remnants of supernova and the black holes of remote intergalactic clusters, LOOK TO YOUR MOTHER.  You probably will find the answers to all of your cosmic mysteries in the sweet lullabies of your childhood.

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